Brewing Tradition: Fifth Leinenkugel continues family legacy

11 Sep 2003 |

A beer brewing family in Chippewa Falls, Wis., has been providing fine beverages to it's customers since 1867, but their most important contribution to society has been brewed since 1942 when the first Leinenkugel joined the Marine Corps. Today, that tradition lives on.Christopher J. "C.J." Leinenkugel has become the fifth "Leini" to enlist in the Marine Corps more than 60 years after his grandfather, John Leinenkugel, first joined. Age 20, and the youngest of the Leinenkugel sons, he decided to follow in his family's foot prints and enlisted in the Marine Corps."I was going to join right after high school but decided to go to school first," he said.The 5-foot, 7-inch, 145-pound college student was looking for a challenge, but college was not enough. "I was tired and just wanted to get out and see the world," said Leinenkugel.Two years at the University of Wisconsin Stout in Menomonee was not enough for him. When one of his long-time friends returned from basic training this winter, the idea of joining the Marines returned and he went to talk to his father, Jake."My dad took me serious this time-unlike when I first came to him right after high school," said Leinenkugel. "He was very supportive."His father brings up many good things about the Marines Corps, according to C.J."He runs the brewery like he was still in the Corps." But on a more serious note, C.J. told his dad, that one of the most important things is serving his country.But Jake is not the only "Leini" encouraging C.J. His grandfather, John, is very proud as well, and frequently gives him books to read about the Corps."He gives me books and talks about his experiences in Saipan, Korea," said C.J.John and C.J. share the same desire for excitement and challenge. In a previous interview about his service in the Marine Corps, 81-year-old John said, "The war (World War II) had just started. I was young and I thought that's where the action would be. I heard they (the Marines) were the best, and I wanted to see if I could make it."John was the first in the family to take the challenge and wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, and enlisted in the Marine Corps on February 16, 1942. "My dad's Marine Corps experience had an influence on me. It's something that I wanted to become involved with to see if I could live up to their standards, and also certainly to be challenged," according to 49-year-old Jake, who joined in 1972 as an enlisted Marine, and later, on June 29, 1976, he received his commission.They weren't selling you something that wasn't there," said Jake, referring to the Core Values. His brother, Richard, was the family's third child to take the challenge by applying and getting into the Navy ROTC program and joining the Marines as an officer.It was those same Core Values that C.J.'s older brother, Matthias "Matt" saw in his father, uncle, and grandfather that made him join the Corps. At a time when he was indecisive about whether or not college was the right thing for him, his father's insight and experience in the Marines helped him make the decision to join."I lacked the self discipline I needed," said Matt. "I guess I needed someone to push me and give me that extra boost at that time."Like his brother, C.J. hopes to get some guidance in his life while experiencing the world. He believes the Marine Corps will give him what he's looking for, and can't imagine joining a different branch."I don't know anyone who doesn't want to be a Marine," he said.
9th Marine Corps District